Friday, December 19, 2008
Later in the day, I was invited back to Eva's bedroom to play the role of Joseph. Eva was laying on her bed holding her tummy, and informed me that she was going to have a baby soon. I asked what we should name him, and she responded, "I don't know. We'll see when it comes out." Then I asked, "What would you like me to do for you, Mary? Hold your hand while you push him out?" (what was I thinking??? I was not in the mood for a conversation about the facts of life... pushing babies out of our lower regions... and I certainly didn't want to start explaining any other details about babies or how we get them) Anyway, Eva responded, "No, he'll come out on his own while we're sleeping." And very matter of factly, "So, snuggle up!"
He did come out on his own. In fact after a few moments, we got up and did a thorough search of the girls' room, looking for baby Jesus. Turns out baby Jesus had somehow made his way under the bed and was actually not human flesh anyway, but was plush and sporting moose antlers.
I've decided I'm going to adopt Eva's chill attitude towards childbirth on the next go-around. However, hopefully I won't sleep so long afterward that I have to go looking for my child. And for that matter, hopefully my baby will have two legs, not four. But you get the idea...
And one more thing. I got to thinking about the real arrival of the real Baby Jesus. If pain in labor is a result of the fall (sin), then was Mary's delivery painless? I mean, Jesus was without sin, and the conception was immaculate. Hmmm, I'll ask Mary some day I think.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Now, for the meat of the letter. Eric and I had a short brainstorming session in hopes of coming up with something really creative and fun for this year. But alas, we're quite unoriginal, so you'll have to put up with the same old layout as before.
With Eric on the road very little these days, it seems that our life has a steady rhythm to it. Regularity has had a noticeable effect on our marriage and time with the girls, and we are so thankful to God for health and time to enjoy it. We road tripped to Montana with friends last spring, and enjoyed camping together with my family and several fun weekend trips this fall. Even as I write this, I am overwhelmed by God's goodness to our us.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Eric: Well, pop isn't very good for you. See how Daddy is a lot chubbier than Mommy? That's probably because I drink so much pop and mommy eats only bean sprouts and hummus.
Eva: Well, I want to be chubbier than my husband. I'm going to drink pop every day so that I am much chubbier than my husband. -big smile-
Friday, December 12, 2008
I would have laughed at you earlier this week if you had suggested I would take my daughter to such a frivolous event as this. In fact, I wasn't even sure if Eva would like it. I was worrying, would we be too far away from the ice to tell what was going on? Would she get bored? Would I want to gag because it was so cheesy? Would she be confused about the stories? We don't really watch kid's movies around here, so the only Disney show Eva has watched was "Cinderella" at Grandma Patenaude's house. Sadly, Cinderella was not a part of this show.
I learned something new about Eva during this excursion: she does not like surprises. I told her before she went to bed on Thursday that we were going to have a very special date the next day, and that it was a surprise. She came to breakfast crying (really, there were tears!), "Mommy, will you please tell me what we're going to do!" I explained the idea as well as I could, but she still was a little fuzzy on the plan. As we hurriedly walked down the huge concourse to the auditorium, she just sat down. "My tummy hurts. I just want to go home." Wow! I thought her curiosity was stronger than her desire to know what is going on, but apparently she really likes predictable situations... or at least having Daddy present when things are out of the ordinary! I carried her most of the way to our seats, but the show was starting just as we walked down the stairs into the venue and I could feel her anxiety lift as she saw Mickey and Minnie skate onto the ice. Relief.
Can you tell she's not too sure about this? Really, she's just irritated because I refuse to buy Disney JUNK to decorate the floor of her room!
There's a mermaid princess! And wouldn't you know it? The man of her dreams is Prince Eric.
I couldn't walk in those costumes, much less propel myself across ice!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
The saddest part isn't that he turned 30. We all like change. The lamentable part was the way we practically didn't celebrate at all. I had planned a fun bowling party with a nice crowd of friends to surround my husband, but then we started discussing the coming week and realized it wouldn't fit. As is typical of us, we had a busy calendar, but hadn't communicated much about it. Eric actually had a singing gig on the night of his party, so the party was nixed. And there isn't another open weekend until January, so there will be no large scale celebration of the big 3-0.
On the actual day, we went to church and then Eric invited some friends and family over for the Vikings game and pizza. That was fun, and the Vikings won. In the late afternoon he went to his Uncle Tim's house to help with a remodeling project. They worked hard, played some cribbage, ate some venison jerky, and then Eric came home and went to bed. No cake, no presents, no singing. What kind of a wife am I???
The next day, Monday, I realized that Eric's brother-in-law, Brian, was coming over for dinner. More accurately, he was buying us dinner with his unused travel stipend. Sweet! With one thing less to do in the day, I decided I could bake a cake. So I made 1/3 of a triple layer cake, which turned out delicious. I also remembered the present that Eva and I had painstakingly wrapped a few months ago and hidden in the back of our closet. I knew Eric would be needing a nice computer bag soon, so I jumped on the deal when it was fresh, back in October. Not romantic or interesting, but useful. Suddenly, a pleasant birthday celebration was taking shape.
However, to be honest, the party was still a little lackluster. I ended up asking Eric to make a grocery store run for frosting ingredients for his own cake. And he had only one guest. And he had 5 candles, not 30, on only 1/3 of a triple layer cake. And he lit his own candles. And the harmonies were less than ideal between Eva and I as we serenaded the birthday boy (but Brian's voice was beautiful...). And Eva accidentally blew out all the candles right before Eric tried to do so. And after opening the gift (which Eva had told him about immediately after wrapping it), he determined that it wasn't really what he was looking for. And in our after dinner game of Settlers of Catan, Brian came from behind and stole Eric's birthday victory. And Hope missed the whole thing, due to her early bedtime. We employed our good senses of humor though, and we were happy to be together and happy for another good year. And speaking for myself, this is a birthday party (fiasco) I will always remember!
Eric Hansen Patenaude, I love you! Happy 30th Birthday! I'm looking forward to your 31st year, by your side.
Thanks for blowing out my candles, Eva!
Eva and Uncle Brian enjoyed their cake (and Brian was kind enough to score some ice cream!)
The rollicking game of Catan. Eric is big blue, but ominous orange was the victor.
Monday, December 08, 2008
who is happily avoiding this:
PS) Since we were so hard at work building, Eva gave us pretend names. Construction worker names, she said. Mine? Freddie Mac. Hers? Fannie Mae.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Now, per one person's request after my rambling Thanksgiving post, I will share a recipe.
This is actually a crock pot recipe, but I've made it in the oven as well. I'll list my substitutions as well (you didn't think I could stick to the real recipe, did you?!?).
"Here's a moist meat loaf with loads of flavor. The toppings, while not essential, lend a festive air to this comfort food classic. I like to serve this with mounds of steaming hot mashed potatoes or a seasoned rice."
1/4 cup long grain white rice brown rice
1 c. boiling water
2 lbs. lean ground beef 1/2 ground venison
2 onions, finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. tomato salsa of any variety
1 c. shredded Monterrey Jack cheese or whatever you have on hand
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
sour cream, optional
finely chopped red or green onion, optional
1. Soak rice in boiling water for 30 minutes. Drain and discard liquid. Set aside. When I use brown rice, I cook it completely on the stove before tossing it in.
2. Fold a 2-foot piece of foil in half lengthwise. Place on bottom and up sides of slow cooker stoneware. Or grab a loaf pan if you're using the regular oven.
3. In a large bowl, combine rice with remaining ingredients and mix well. Shape into a loaf and place in middle of foil strip on bottom of slow cooker stoneware. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on High for 4-5 hours, until juices run clear when meat loaf is pierced with a fork. Lift out loaf using foil strip and transfer to a warm platter. If you're using the oven, cook at 350 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours. Serve with salsa, etc. if desired.
****when I make this to freeze, I usually find that a tripled recipe ends up making four nice sized loaves. Also, if you are trying to use up ground venison, this is a perfect recipe. The intense tex-mex flavors mask any gamey taste!****
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
I saw this video posted at least 5 times today as I took my daily dose of blog reading. Finally I clicked on the play button and watched. I was impressed, inspired, convicted. Every single Christmas since we've been married, Eric and I have embarked on a journey to create Christmas, the right way. To date, we haven't arrived at the perfect blend of tradition, creativity, generosity, single-mindedness, worship or spontaneity that is our goal. But, we're on the road, and to quote one of my favorite Indigo Girls songs, "We get to have some answers when we reach the other side. The prize is always worth the rocky ride."
So, we start the conversation again... I showed Eric the video. He said, "That's cool. Really cool. But we already spent our money." Which is true- I say with relief, "I've finished our Christmas shopping for the year." As I said before, we've been on this road for awhile, hence I did make a point to go pretty simple this year, and we did not spend gobs of money. So, to some extent, I am satisfied.
Satisfied, but not at peace. Could we give some of our presence? Perhaps we could give some of our time. Some of our relational nature. I loved Carrien's post on this topic. We talk about this sort of thing every year, and still haven't made significant changes. We are sluggish, meanwhile our souls are growing brittle and there is work to be done.
This video isn't the same ol' "Reason for the Season" stuff. I like it a lot. A plan is formulating in my head... maybe it'll spill out onto the keyboard one of these days. Until then, I'm curious- how do you make the Christmas season worshipful? How do you fight consumerism? How do you rethink Christmas?
And I remind myself, life is the journey, the rocky ride. So lets go forward on the road, reworking and fine tuning as we go.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
We all the know the quote, right? "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."
Well, we (the Spears/Patenaude/Selin family) have been making a lot of plans lately. And meanwhile, life just keeps happening. Here is a snapshot of today:
- Intend to walk with the girls to the grocery store this morning in the beautiful, chilly weather. But oops! The double stroller is in the back of the van with Eric at work.
- Plan B: Eric's dad will be dropping by around noon to say hello on his way to Mankato for Thanksgiving. Maybe he'll be willing to babysit (and lend me his car) while I get groceries.
- 1:30 pm, Dad arrives, agrees to babysit in exchange for some lunch.
- I park .75 miles from the grocery store, as it is the day before Thanksgiving. I get out of the pimped out (old) El Dorado that is my ride.
- Charge through NYC in rush hour... I mean, the grocery store. I find everything I think I need, including a remarkable deal on Chicken breasts. I bought at least 30 lbs.!
- After Dad leaves and the girls are down for naps, I continue with my plan: Freezer Meals! Four pans of Mexican Meatloaf, 2 pans of Enchiladas, 2 pans of Hamburger/Rice hot dish. I put on my favorite new tunes, my red apron, and set to work. Pure bliss... productivity in the kitchen, no interruptions. I should be done in less than two hours, including dishes.
- After two hours, the disgusting truth hits me. The ridiculously expensive, throw away pans bought at the grocery store are in Dad's car. In Mankato. Grrrrr. So here I sit, with mountains of almost completed food covering my counter tops, and no pans to put it in. Much of this food is heading off to a couple I don't even know, so I'm not risking my own Pyrex. Alas, this will have to wait until 8:00 tonight.
- Have you noticed pomegranates in the grocery stores lately? Dinner tonight was Mexican Meatloaf, pomegranate, and oranges. Not exactly a traditional combination, but what the heck! It was all delicious!
- After dinner, I call my mom. Turns out she has made a few plans that went awry as well. The big kicker: her cozy little weekend with all the kiddos home is going up in smoke. One "kiddo" (and his new wife) are stuck in the hospital. Their first holiday since they moved away from home, too. We are the other kiddos, and we will be departing early from the festivities in order to attend Eric's Uncle's funeral. That's a bummer, all around.
- Mom is not happy, but I suggest we bring a yummy meal to Erin at the hospital tomorrow. Good idea... but maybe Dad wants to go see them too! And Eva insists on going; she loves the hospital and seeing Jon in that funky bed. So, Mom will call me back.
- She calls back, and somehow we start talking about my upcoming trip to the grocery store to get the dumb ol' throw away pans (again). She says that she's heading to the grocery store tomorrow. Uhh, no she's not. Cub Foods is NOT open on Thanksgiving. Next thing you know, Eric's making the stuffing for tomorrow and I'm heading to the store with Mom's list in hand.
- After returning from the grocery store, I talk to Mom again. She's confined to the church tonight, where she and Dad are sleeping over with a few homeless families. It dawns on me that perhaps she would like to see Erin and Jon tomorrow instead of spending the whole day cooking for the masses. I offer to come up early to babysit the turkey, etc. She starts to cry. She says that she'll talk to Dad and call me back. _______________________________________________________________
- Well, I've just checked my voice mail and the "final" decisions have been made. Jon might be released tomorrow (yippee!), Mom and Dad are going to slave over Thanksgiving dinner by themselves until we arrive whenever we please.
- I get a voice mail from Grandma saying that she forgot she was making pies, and started making stuffing. But our stuffing is all finished. That's ironed out now, and Grandma is putting frozen pies in the oven, I'm adding to the stuffing in the crock pot.
- We're not packed, as I had planned to be by now. That's OK though, because it turns out- life doesn't going according to plan!
I always plan on little Hope being sweet and busy. She is really walking a lot lately. Grandpa Patenaude nicknamed her "Walkie-Talkie" today. It is fitting!
I didn't plan on looking like a moron in all my self portraits, but I guess I didn't check myself in the mirror today. The growing out of short hair is hard on a girl's chic image. Here I am, looking like I've cried for months over my onions, admiring the pile of ground meat on the kitchen scale. Looks like fun, huh?
Anyway, I might as well go to bed, since a whole new day is about to begin and who knows what kind of plans this day will hold!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
- My brother in law, Jon, is in the hospital after experiencing a ruptured appendix yesterday. Thankfully they got him to the ER within a few hours of the rupture, so the damage was not as bad as it could've been. He is recovering comfortably after 3 hours of surgery, but sadly he won't be able to taste even a tidbit of Thanksgiving dinner at my parent's house (if they decide to come after all of this...). Pray for a fast recovery for Jon so he can get back to feeling himself and back to work. He used up all his PTO for their honeymoon last summer! Even though he's not my husband, he's still on my mind today.
- I have a cold, complete with dripping nose and watery eyes. But, its only a cold, after all.
- Hope handled the cold (thanks for sharing with me, girly) she just got over well, but came out of it with some messed up sleep habits. I am not pleased with the lack of sleep around here.
- Speaking of sleep, Eric slept in the guest room last night, and Eva slept with me in our bed. She coughed in my face most of the night, fighting the cold Eva style. Which also contributed to my lack of sleep.
- Ella is not here today, on account of the cold. Even that feels out of whack!
- This is a funky week because of Thanksgiving, leaving me paralyzed over which pieces of housework to do or not do. Oh, and packing...we'll be gone for four days. That is just wacky!
Update on Eva's cold: "Mom, whenever I breathe, snot comes out." I said, "That's gross, Eva." Then I offered to help her blow her nose. But alas, a three year old must do everything by herself. Including wiping snot disguised as egg white all over her face in an attempt to blow her own nose. I repeat, "That's gross, Eva."
Saturday, November 22, 2008
A black president
Aaron & Bethany
Little House on the Prairie
my compassionate husband
Bonnie & Donnie
A good Dr. visit, ultrasound, and seeing our Boy
Darlings son in Bethany's womb
My smokin' hot wife Becca (I'm blushing...)
going on dates
A new laptop for work!
that I came to Julia's house
Snow is so fun! God healed Gracie
brisk temps and frosty snowflakes
A stable job in a great company
Having Aaron, Bethany, and Hazel over
My Little Pony movie
crock pot meals
The 3 prettiest girls in the world (blushing more...)
Russell and Vaunder
The Princess and the Pea (a great story!)
Spending time with Daddy
Visiting family for the holidays
Promise of Heaven
Playing downstairs at Julia's house
Becca's servant heart (you're all so kind...)
I'm thankful for spending time with daddy today
A warm house
God's word relatives who come to stay with us
Thankful for an awesome family and very pretty smells like the lily
Eric's Biblical leadership
LHOTP (I just learned what that stands for!)
going for walks
If you head over there, you have to read all about baby Stellan's dramatic life and be encouraged. God has been so good to the MckFamily!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Hope enjoys counting too. It seems that the second child learns a lot of "second-hand" knowledge, probably through osmosis. Whenever Eva starts to count anything, Hope listens to "One..." then jumps in, eagerly grinning, with "Dooo!"
Fun little ladies, they are.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
We got up around 9 that morning, and lazily loaded our bikes onto the car, gathered up the girls and their gear, and set off for the charming little village of Welch. It is situated down in a valley, next to a lazy river. The last 5 miles on the road to Welch are narrow, windy, nestled down in a glade of hardwoods. As you get a glimpse of the town center, you might think you've stepped back in time. The perfect way to begin a relaxing day.
The Trout Scream Cafe and Post Office (above), the Welch Mill (below)
The plan for the day was bike riding along the Cannon River Trail, we rode half of it- from Welch to Red Wing, about 20 miles round trip. It was a crisp fall day. In the shade we were chilly, but in the sun (or after pedalling 20 miles) we were warm. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and it was that happy bright blue, almost a Rocky Mountain sky...
We picked up the trail at the old Welch train station then rode for a few miles before having our picnic lunch beside the river. We were sitting 20 feet from a mature elm tree, home to a Bald Eagle. We didn't actually get to see the bird, but a handful of locals stopped to ask if we had spotted him that day. On one side of the trail was the peaceful river, tall bluffs, and limestone cliffs. On the other side was farm land and evidence of civilization. Both views were totally enjoyable. The leaves were just starting to change. Here and there we crossed over creeks or gullies on sturdy wooden bridges. We pointed out interesting wildlife and plants to the girls as we went. The rode along, happily mesmerized by the motion of the bike trailer, eating snacks and playing with a few toys.When we arrived in Red Wing we hoped to find a sweet park to play at, but the park was only a few picnic tables and big, old trees. Eva had very much been looking forward to playing at a playground, but Eric seized the moment and taught her how to climb trees instead. When it was time to go, we could hardly pull her away from the her new found tree-home.
Hope wandered about unsupervised (mostly) for awhile until she got herself stuck inside the bike. She seemed pretty relaxed, despite her predicament.
On the way back from Red Wing, we noticed a small, hand-made wooden sign on the side of the trail. An arrow pointed up the hill side away from the river, and the sign read "Sculpture Garden". We didn't know what we would find, but opted for a little side trip anyway. As we walked up an overgrown path through the woods, we passed an elderly Asian couple decked out in blaze orange and carrying rifles. When we asked what they were doing, we got a confusing reply... but we eventually realized they were hunting squirrel. Who knew!?! I laughed. Hard. The trail to the mysterious sculpture garden took us up, up, up...
Then delivered us into a large clearing, where there most certainly were many sculptures alternated with fruitful apple trees. They were cool sculptures too, stimulating interesting conversation and observations from all of us. Eva's imagination ran wild, creating a whole new universe of life surrounding the sculptures. I should have taken pictures of all of my favorites, but I only captured the mosaic turtle. I am a sucker for anything mosaic, and this one was extra cool because it was a collaborative effort between the artists and students from Red Wing High School. I'm also a sucker for any opportunity to channel the creativity of young people.
Across the orchard/art display we could see some old buildings. It turns out, this whole area is the Anderson Center, a premier artist retreat. Loaded with history, these old buildings house all kinds of artistic endeavors, projects, ideas. Artists here are giving an interpretation of this modern world, in a setting that draws out homesickness for times gone by. A very cool place. Most of the buildings, including a killer greenhouse, were locked, but we pushed open the door to a water tower. We climbed the dark, spiral staircase to the top for a view of the whole river valley area. This was the absolute highlight of the day for all of us. The top of the tower holds a small room, reminiscent of Prince Edward Island lighthouses. The perfect escape, a place to read or nap, or just think. There were a few good books up there, a chess set, and a space heater. In our mind's eye, we imagined every intimate moment those walls had seen. The girls enjoyed standing on the edge of the balcony surrounding the water tower and looking at the ant-sized world below.
We walked the 78 steps down and closed the heavy iron door. It was awesome.
At the bottom of the tower, we decided to pacify our hungry tummies with a fresh picked apple. I figured that I hadn't eaten anything so purely nutritious in months. Every bite was full of up to the minute fresh enzymes, vitamins and minerals in top condition. Talk about eating locally! And for those of you who keep track- I am wearing my "uterus" shirt in this picture (again). What would a perfect day be without the perfect, well-worn t-shirt?
On the way back down to the bike trail, Eva picked me a heavenly bouquet of fresh, fall wildflowers.
We took a gentle pace biking...
And when we arrived back at the car, we found the girls like this:
The ingredients for a perfect day: beautiful weather, exercise, surprises, art, good food, exploration, natural beauty, adventure, history, hiking, cheerful children, flowers, being with the ones you love most.